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August 14, 1992 - Image 63

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1992-08-14

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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10111•

on display at one time.
There's so much to see that
Ms. Weiss and other docents
select certain objects to
highlight as they guide vis-
itors through the modern one-
story museum that's just one
block away from historic In-
dependence Hall.
When Ms. Weiss leads tours
twice a month — and there
are docents on duty at all
times — she usually starts by
taking them into the sanc-
' tuary of historic Mikveh Is-
rael, which adjoins the
museum lobby.
She points out the striking
central chandelier, the mar-
ble reader's stand, and the
ritual objects, some dating
back to colonial times. This
Sephardic congregation,
which was founded over 250
years ago, is the second oldest
in the United States.
As visitors admire the au-
stere, simple beauty of this
sanctuary, Ms. Weiss points
out that it is a functioning
synagogue. The founders of
the congregation once wor-
shipped in rented quarters
not far from this site. Then
they moved into three other
properties as they kept grow-
ing. Finally, when the mu-
seum opened in 1976, they
returned to the area where
Jewish life in Philadelphia
began.
Leaving Mikveh Israel's
sanctuary, Ms. Weiss takes
her visitors back into the lob-
by and shows them the
tapestry Gallery to Heaven,
which depicts the exterior
and interior of three of Mik-
veh Israel's former syna-
gogues.
Next she takes them to the
museum's special exhibit,
"Ordinary and Extraordinary
Lives."
But no matter how much
they linger over the objects on
display here, Ms. Weiss leaves
plenty of time to show visitors
the museum's permanent ex-
hibit. Titled "The American
Jewish Experience," it's an
extensive display that starts
with a time line of world
Jewish history.
It begins with 1492, a date
especially noteworthy to
those visiting this year, since
this is the 500th anniversary
of the expulsion of Jews from
Catholic Spain. It continues
into the 1980s, with such
specific markers as 1987,
when Austrian president
Kurt Waldheim, former of-
ficer of the Third Reich, was
barred from the U.S.
After the time line, the rest
of the exhibit focuses on
American Jewish life in all its
variety.
Jewish cowboys, Jews in the
world wars, Jewish entre-
preneurs, artists, politicians

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THE

nFTROIT JEWISH NEWS

63

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